Okay, okay… put your ones away and get your mind out of the gutter. As much as we’d love for this to be about the fine art of pole dancing, we’ll be talking about something much sexier – how to make your client surveys take off like a rocket. 😉
Most PR pros have come to accept that clients don’t always have hard news to promote. It’s in times like these where more and more of us are turning to surveys to drive news. So, how do you build a survey that will rocket your client to the moon and back?
Assemble the Parts
When creating your survey, it’s important to have a vision of your final product in mind. Decide what industry trend you want to investigate and what insightful takeaways you’d like to see on that topic. From here, you will be ready to work backwards to craft your questions. Also, it’s best to keep your list of questions to 10 or less. Otherwise, survey takers are going to peace the F out before you can get the answers.
Plot Your Course
Now that you have your questions, it’s time to pick the best method to conduct your survey. Whether it is conducted online or in person, there is often one method that’s best depending on the circumstances. For example, if you’re conducting a survey at an industry event or conference, utilizing good ol’ pen and paper is easiest. This way, you can have multiple people filling out surveys at once and have the sales team qualify leads on the spot based on a quick review of their responses. In most other scenarios, an online survey tool works great. The nice thing about today’s survey technologies is that they do all the grunt work – aka calculating – for you. #winning
Everyone Wants to be an Astronaut
Lets not forget one of the most important things: no one likes to take surveys without a little something in it for them. Decide what is going to be the best motivator for your target audience based on demographics or the latest trend in tech. It needs to be something people want enough that they are willing to exchange five minutes of their time for it. It could be something simple like an Amazon gift card, something hip like an Apple Watch, or you can go the classic cool route like our client, Adaptiva, and offer up a Harley Davidson – then maybe you’ll get a turnout like this.
Bringing it Home
Now that you’ve got your data, what the heck are you supposed to do with it? First things first, it’s time to celebrate your surprises. Take a look at your data and pull out anything that shocks you. Flag numbers that are extremely high or low, or those that confirm or, even better, buck a preconceived industry insight. The nuggets of insights surveys produce can often create an opportunity to validate key messaging points.
Next, since you’re a baller and built your survey rocket with a plan, you should be able to turn your single data set into two or more smaller sets, and compare those side-by-side. By adding a few clarifying questions up front, you can use that data to breakout your respondents by age and compare Millennials vs. Baby Boomers. Or, you can divide your data by company size and compare Enterprises vs. SMBs. The more opportunities you give yourself to slice and dice the data, the more takeaways you’ll have to tell a story.
Working the poll can be hard work, but remember the key strategies above and you’ll be raking in coverage like a moth to a flame.
Shenanigans may or may not include eating ice cream, laying on freshly mowed lawn, soaking up the rays and Vitamin D, and/or sitting in a sangria-filled paddling pool
By Constance McBarron, special reporter to the BPR blog
July 2, 2015
SEATTLE and DENVER and “TEXAS” – It’s getting hot in heeerrrrre.
At least, that’s what the folks at Barokas Public Relations are saying. With record temps hitting the nation these past few weeks, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that summer has arrived. *
A quick survey of the Barokas PR staff revealed that 100 percent of the team is enjoying the longer days and, frankly, happier people in the city. Backyard BBQs and increased levels of Vitamin D top the literal highlights of summer, followed by working on a tan, hiking, wearing flippy-floppies, eating ice cream, wearing shorts, and enjoying baseball and/or golf.
One undisclosed Account Executive wrote in, “Brunch, Booze, Repeat.” Cheers, mate.
The survey also discovered that 90 percent of the staff plan to get the hell out of here take a vacation at some point this summer, with almost 50 percent planning to partake in some outdoorsy shit that may or may not include camping in the nearby mountains with the family dog. Other vacation locales include: Vegas, Vegassss, Maui Wowie, “Space”, Burning Man, Lake Chelan, “an island”, Chicago, Telluride, Disneyland, San Francisco, Crested Butte, Walla Walla, Croatia, and quite a few out of town weddings.
“I’m like a traveling machine this summer,” commented an Account Manager who plans on taking three trips between July and September. Go get it, girl, you’ve earned it.
It should be noted that the Barokas PR’s mascots, two English bulldogs named Mack and Emma, plan to stay in Issaquah to enjoy the cool comforts of home. Pampered pooches.
“I said I’m not going anywhere, stop rubbing it in,” agreed yet another Account Executive who wishes to remain anonymous.
*Editor’s Note: There is some doubt as to whether this weather will depart any time soon.
While working remotely from home has its advantages, it can also leave you desiring some good old face time with your teammates – beyond Skype, that is. Both Kersa and I agreed on that point when we flew up to Denver for our summer All-Hands meeting. The trip was made that much more special since neither of us had been to the Denver office before, which just marked its two-year anniversary!
The opening of BPR’s second location in Colorado, back in 2013, is just the beginning of the company’s expansion. Texas has welcomed two BPR’ers since this time, me included, even though our choice in location happens to be a coincidence. I began working remotely back in November 2014 and now work out of Corpus Christi, Texas, due to my husband’s career. Kersa joined the remote squad in May of this year, and is now residing in Austin, Texas.
Due to our remote locations, visiting Denver was a welcome adventure for both of us! While in Denver we found time to not only to catch up with colleagues, but also to take in a few of the city’s attractions.
Before I left Denver I learned a few things, including:
Denver is home to a big blue bear, which livens up the Colorado Convention Center.
Kersa here! Like Heather mentioned, we have come to appreciate many thing about working remotely – such as fewer distractions and zero commute time – but we also miss seeing our BPR family each day. Spending time with our Denver cohorts during this short trip definitely solidified that sentiment.
Lucky for us, BPR provides its employees with the option of visiting other office locations for a few days without using up any vacation days. Looks like Denver will be seeing a lot more of Heather and I from here on out!
Some of my favorite Denver takeaways include:
The air is fresher because you are “closer to the sky”
Crosswalk signals aren’t followed – walk at your own risk!
“Everyone’s nicer in Denver” should probably be the city’s motto
We worked, we laughed, we tried our first pickle shot, and we even biked during our whirlwind trip to Denver – until next time!
We could kick this blog off touting all the ways this agency is an exemplary example of an agency with “good work culture.” But, that bullshit jargon speak would be so the other guys. Forget those cliché best places to work lists, we’ve been busting the badass place to work mold everyday for years. Here’s the inside scoop on what really goes on behind close doors at the big BPR:
You know you work at Barokas PR when….
1. It’s a little awkward and you’re still not entirely sure how it happened, but you inherited a whole new family on your first day on the job.
2. Your new motto has become- “You don’t need news, to make news.”
3. Summer means sunshine and whiskey (literally). This one’s for you Howie 😉 😉
4. You’re making your morning cup of joe and have more milk choices than you get at Starbucks.
5. You’re always fully mentally prepared for the deep life altering thoughts that could come from anyone at anytime.
6. You aren’t quite sure if the true office mascot is a plastic bulldog named Jack or a stuffed panda named Pablo. It’s definitely a toss up.
7. It’s Friday, which means you can bet at least a few people on your teams aren’t wearing any pants to work.
8. Whether you’re in Denver or Seattle, you can always find the office cause it’s strategically located a block from the Irish bar Fado one way, and the baseball stadium the other. (No way this wasn’t a happy accident)
9. By noon you think you can fly because the mini Red Bull fridge is fully stocked today and you’re on number four.
10. Either a meme, GIF, or eCard is the most appropriate response to most things. Duh–even Google agrees!
Do you speak-a our language (for you 80s Men at Work fans)? Are you badass too? If so, we’re always looking for new members of the fam. Just drop Jack a note on why we should adopt you—email@example.com.
Summer means many things at BPR. Happy hour brainstorms on a patio. Business casual flip-flops. Writing press release while “unplugging” on vacation.
But nothing gets us more amped than summer movie season. Except this summer, we’ve been incredibly let down by the theatre offerings. Avengers 2 was meh. Tomorrowland was preachy. Entourage was brutal. There hasn’t been a single summer movie that made us stand up and cheer.
Okay fine, Pitch Perfect 2 was pretty great, but other than that….
The problem with summer movies is that the hype ultimately never really moves the needle. It’s usually the under-the-radar films that really strike a nerve (we’re looking at you Me, Earl and the Dying Girl).
The same rule applies to PR. Sure, it sounds super sexy to tell your board that your agency is going to pitch you to Forbes, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. However, a lot of effort can go into trying to secure a small mention in these blockbuster publications, but it might not ultimately be what is best for your business. Sure, a lot of eyeballs for your message or product is great, but just because something gets seen by a lot of people doesn’t mean it nets a great end result.
It’s important to really understand what will resonate with your client’s audience. Smaller, more niche publications can drive just as much, if not more, awareness for your brand. So while a Washington Post mention looks good in an investor recap, a full-blown feature in a trade publication aimed specifically at your target audience will likely yield much great traction. The masthead might not be as sexy, but the ROI sure will be.
So, this summer, instead of following the herd and going to see the most publicized movies – damn you, Terminator Genisys – check out a smaller film here and there. And when you’re trying to generate awareness for your company, don’t forget the importance of the little guys. They’re the ones that might ultimately be the biggest hit of the season.
One of my favorite quotes from an early season of Mad Men was Don Draper telling a young staffer, ‘Options are weak.’ I think about it every time I’m preparing to give a recommendation to a client. Do I offer them multiple choices to consider, or do I go with my gut and give one solid recommendation? Options are weak. Go with your gut.
Analysis Paralysis stems from behavioral economics. The theory, over simplified, is that when offered too many choices, you become overwhelmed and end up choosing none. So what can you do to mitigate analysis paralysis?
Do Your Research
Whatever the scenario, chances are, this isn’t the first time a company has been through this situation, or a seasoned team member hasn’t dealt with something similar. Utilize your resources to gather all the information and select the best strategy that fits your client.
If a question comes up in a meeting, it’s OK to tell them you’ll get back to them with a recommendation. It’s better to give yourself time than give bad advice.
Be Confident in Your Convictions
Now that you’ve decided on a recommendation, you have to deliver it to the client. “One thing you could try…” “Maybe you could….” Are two of my least favorite ways to start a sentence. It shows a lack of confidence and your client is not likely to take your idea or recommendation seriously.
Instead, be bold and willing to stand up for your ideas: “We would recommend…” “You should…”
Back It Up
You did all that research for a reason. If the client pushes back or second-guesses your recommendation, get ready to back it up.
The client hired us to be the PR experts. If you give too many options and ask the client to decide, you will never move anything forward. Have the confidence in your abilities and speak with conviction. Options are weak, but you don’t have to be.
And so the process goes: Your awesome client tells you they have news, you devise a strategy, draft the release, conduct outreach, host briefings (hopefully multiple), and then pray to the journalistic Gods that the reporter publishes an article and leverages that materials you provided to portray your client in a positive light.
From initial interest from a reporter all the way to the release crossing the wire, it’s our responsibility as PR pros to influence the media every step of the way. We spoon feed them original angles, supply industry data, follow up with corporate collateral and serve customer references – the list goes on. If we’re successful, a feature article can have a significant impact on a client’s business. In some cases, you can even directly quantify the value of PR to a specific business metric or result.
For our client, Vertafore, the company came to us with a product update for one of its leading insurance software solutions. A minor (but still important) update that, lucky for us, aligned with some timely industry news.
You see, Google has recently entered into the insurance technology space and has been causing quite a stir in insurance trade publications as well as mainstream technology outlets. While Vertafore’s latest product update doesn’t necessarily directly compete with Google’s insurance solution, Vertafore has been in the market for over 45 years and brings unmatched industry expertise, technology sophistication and a massive customer base. This gave them a unique opportunity to discuss why technology players such as Google, who try to ‘do it all,’ will never be able to offer consumers the same depth of knowledge, expertise, and resources that industry cornerstones like Vertafore provide.
Leveraging this timely angle, we were able to secure an interview with one of the higher circulation insurance publications. The conversation centered on market implications of Google’s entry and how Vertafore stands to compete.
The call was a challenging one. As the PR team, we helped create common ground by offering up suggestions for a couple of counterpoints that the spokesperson ran with during the interview. This even extended the interview by 10-15 minutes. A great sign, but it was still unclear what key messages the reporter was going to focus on in the article. Later that day we worked on a series of follow up responses to provide the reporter with extra information – making it almost certain this one would result in the type of coverage we wanted to garner.
The story touched on the majority of the key messages we wanted included, and those extra points the spokesperson included at the end of the call were highlighted heavily in the second half of the piece. But, the headline was the real attention grabber. The blatant title drove clicks, likes and shares.
Net/net: While it’s sometimes hard to know what’s going to resonate with press, it’s our job to feed media stories that move the needle for our clients, and to help guide our clients correctly through the process. We need to strike the perfect balance between client wants and needs with trends we know will pique reporter interest. By encouraging clients to push the envelop and get a bit outside of their comfort zone to discuss the hot button topic, the result is a mutually beneficial article – the reporter drives clicks, the client drives leads.
For eight years, there was nothing better than spending an hour each week in front of the TV with Don, Peggy and Joan. Yes, Mad Men. The series quickly became one of my favorites after just a few episodes. Whether it was the vintage clothes, 1960’s and 1970’s inspired sets or the great one-liners from Don (that’s why I pay you!), the show effortlessly captivated its mass audience at every turn.
With the show’s final episode airing last month, I was left wondering what new series could possibly fill the vast void left by the end of Mad Men. Enter HAPPYish. Like Mad Men, the series is set in an ad agency, but in the modern day. Thom Payne, the lead character, is a mid-40s creative director whose world is turned upside down when his new 25 year-old boss blows in to town to drive a new “social” direction for the agency. This leads Thom to question his “joy ceiling” and whether pursuing happiness is a fool’s errand.
One of my favorite parts of this dark comedy is how the creators bring brands to life within the context of the show. In six episodes, we’ve been treated to segments on Coke, the Wonderbra, Amazon, GEICO, Keebler, and New York Life, among others. The show’s main characters interact with several famous brand spokescharacters including the GEICO Gecko and the Keebler Elves. The show strips away the polished image of these characters and presents you with a rough and raw version that helps move the storyline forward in a NOT so perfect, real world.
For example, Thom is worried about saving the animated Keebler Elves from their untimely demise due to a change in creative strategy that dictates the use of real world actors. The segment quickly takes an outrageous turn with Ernie Keebler (head elf) perched in the Hollow Tree and wheeling a gun, and Thom taking a romp in the hay with Ma Keebler. Outrageously funny and shocking? Yes. Damaging to the brand? Maybe, maybe not.
In a time when companies are more fiercely protective of their brands than ever before, it’s risky to allow a third party to manipulate the image of a brand or icon. This is one of the key themes the show tackles throughout each episode – when is it time for a brand to flex its creative muscle and consider a change?
In my opinion, it was a risk worth taking and perfectly targeted at the show’s target audience – 30, 40 and 50-somethings who have grown up with these brands and appreciate the humor that comes with age. The brands featured on HAPPYish have taken a risk, pushed the envelope and evolved with their audience to breathe new life into trusted, household names.
I first met Howie when he presented to my communications class during the last quarter of senior year at the University of Washington (go Huskies!). In addition to capturing my immediate attention touting a “No BS” approach to PR, I remember one of the first pieces of PR wisdom Howie shared us, “No one will ever fully understand what you do for a living – not even your family.” Although not entirely aware what he meant at the time, I was certainly intrigued.
Fast-forward five years and Howie’s wisdom still holds true, not only here at BPR, but as an industry as a whole. PR is an industry that is largely misunderstood, often mistaken for marketing or advertising (although most PR pros would appreciate a martini lunch reminiscent of advertising’s Mad Men era). Misinterpreted or not, from my perspective PR is simply the best kept secret.
As Mother’s Day quickly crept on us this year, I asked my BPR family to do a little field testing to see how well our own moms know what we do for 40+ hours a week. I was certain that they too would succumb to the masses and wouldn’t have a clue what their precious kiddos do day in and day out, but I was completely wrong.
In addition to being our super heroes, the best cooks, and our shoulder to cry on when we scraped a knee, one thing will forever hold true – our moms are the shit. Admittedly, judging by mom’s facial expressions each time I try to explain my client’s technology (even in layman’s terms), I highly doubted she knew what I did for a living. And for that, I’m forever sorry and will never doubt her again. In fact, her answer was pretty damn perfect:
“You create a positive image for companies via media.”
A few brilliant answers from other BPR Moms include:
“You monitor your clients public image and help them market themselves and promote their product or service through mass media.” – Taylor N’s Mom
“Honey, I think the job of a PR person is to inject, increase, and or improve the image of a client company in a market it wishes to target. I think you’re doing this by increasing exposure and visual media, television, the written media, magazines and newspaper articles and through social media. And I don’t really understand how you do all social media, but there are lots of ways I guess. The job of a PR person I think is to make a product understandable, approachable, and desirable.” – Melissa’s Mom
“Not sure I really know what you do-write press releases, council CEO’s on communication strategies-what else?” – Karli’s Mom
“Help companies find the best way to get their products, message to the masses.” – Constance’s Mom
“I think you kind of sell the company that you’re promoting. If you’re working for a business you advocate for them.” – Taylor B’s Mom
So PR pros, what have we learned today? Our moms are badass. They are always right, they listen (even as we attempt to explain the complexities of enterprise security, mobile device management and programmatic advertising), and they have a pretty solid idea of what we do in PR.
To be fair, this post wouldn’t be complete without a few honorable mentions as well.
“I have no idea what you do, but you’re on your phone too much.” – Lindsey’s Mom
“Are you Samantha Jones from Sex and the City?” – Lauren’s Mom
“I mean, I think your title says it all ‘public relations.’” – Allyse’s Mom
In honor of Mother’s Day I want to recognize my awesome mom, Barbara, and share with you a small sample of the great content she creates on a weekly basis. Here is a voicemail she left me this week after arriving in New Orleans with my dad, Morgan. They’d planned a trip to NOLA a few years ago, then Katrina hit. They finally took the trip as an early celebration for their 60th wedding anniversary in October.
In case you’re wondering, they got a King bed that was already made, and they bought yogurt and bread for the morning. Oh and my dad’s snoring machine made it through TSA. If you need to reach them they are in room 223, under Barokas.